I just read a post from another blogger (and cousin!) about eating school lunch with the students at the middle school she works at. Finally, the inspiration to post something here.
I am eating lunch EVERY day with the high school students. Several factors influenced my decision to do this:
1. School lunch is free at our school if a teacher commits to eating with the students every day. It is a one year commitment. I estimate that I will save at least $150-$200 doing this. I should go through my bank statements and add it up. Could be way more that that.
2. If you have never eaten a lunch in a teacher's lounge, don't start. My first year I thought "Wow! So THIS is what it's like to be behind the magic curtain!" Since I now teach at the same high school I attended, it felt like a huge promotion at first. And don't get me wrong, I very much enjoy the company of my coworkers. However, when you have to cram eating your lunch, making copies, taking a phone call, using the bathroom, and listening to every complaint anyone at the table feels like airing at the moment all into a 22 minute time period.... taking your lunch out to the commons area and plopping down with the kids while you eat it is like A VACATION.
It goes like this: Sorry, can't take the call from that fundraiser company right now, I'm eating with the kids. Nope, can't commiserate about your problem with that kid, I'm eating lunch with him right now. Darn, I guess we will just not have that boring worksheet that I was going to panic about and copy with one hand while I ate with the other during lunch today. I'm eating with the kids instead. Everyone wins!
And I actually get to EAT!
3. I'm pregnant and cannot seem to get enough calories from a lunch of leftovers thrown together at the last minute before leaving the house OR from a school lunch. I USUALLY EAT BOTH! (I will be regretting that one a few months after the baby is born and the weight needs to come back off again)
Free school lunch also comes with free entertainment, and teaching opportunities I would have not otherwise ever had...
Ever eaten a taco burger while a teenage girl shows you photos on her phone of her hamster that her cat killed last night??? I'm not sure whether it was the shocked look on my face or the actual words "Totally NOT appropriate dinner conversation!" that got my point across. Her prom date can thank me later for teaching her that one. Although she HAD thought enough to pose the dead hamster next to a cigarette box so viewers could see how big it was. Excellent use of relative size and scale.
Ever watched a teenage boy squirm in his seat because he is suddenly the ONLY kid left sitting with you and he desperately wants to move to another table but he is too polite to leave you sitting by yourself??? You barely have to nod in his direction to indicate to him it's ok to bust out of there and he is eternally grateful. But that extra 30 seconds I made conversation and he pretended to listen may have taught him how to win over the future in-laws some day.
I have enjoyed it more than I ever thought, although the first few days were intensely awkward. It's that same feeling of "I must search the room and choose just the right place to sit without anyone noticing that I am searching or looking desperate" that you had in high school.
Some things never change.